After the Fresh Pond Road Street Festival was the only one not to immediately be approved at Community Board 5 of five street festival applications this year, the celebration of Italian-American heritage finally got the green light at the board’s meeting on March 11.
The street fair, managed by Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens since 1995, was restored to its full four-day span last year after reducing its length for several years. But the increase in length raised concerns over traffic congestion from shutting down a five-block stretch of the neighborhood thoroughfare for four days.
This concern – along with some missing paperwork – gave the board pause. In response, its organizer Tony DiPiazza, suggested that the resistance that he was encountering had a basis in the ethnic character of celebration.
“The objection to our street festival was always traffic congestion. Yet the other festivals, without naming them, they create havoc in their community. At the Italian street festival – we have Forest Avenue, 60th Place – and yet there’s objection,” DiPiazza said in addressing the board before the vote.
What the board’s executive committee said at their February meeting was that the festival’s organizers did not submit all the requisite financial information. For this reason, the application ended up being tabled in February so it could go back to the committee.
The festival will run from Thursday, Sept. 3 through Sunday, Sept. 6, on Fresh Pond Road between Woodbine and Menahan streets. It will go from 5:30 to 10 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
“They’ve run it without problems, without police issues or calls to the community board. There are two ways to get up and down Forest [Ave.]. They’ve run it four dozens of years and they’ve given back to the community. It’s a wonderful festival,” said CB5 member Walter Sanchez.
After the executive committee tabled its recommendation at last month’s hearing and examined the organization’s financial documents, they were evenly split for and against the application.
DiPiazza explained to the board that the festival made profits of $28,000 of which it gave $1,000 each to five community groups as well as several other local groups they funded. The organization also promised to open a community assistance office for Italian-Americans on Myrtle Avenue.
In the end, the festival passed the general board vote 16-11, with a large contingent of the board members who reside in Ridgewood voting against it.
The mayor’s office will make the final decision on whether or not to honor the CB5’s decision.